Badger’s Perfect Garden

Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Published by Sleeping Bear Press

Dedicated to “Blaise Diane, our ‘Little Bee,’ who I hope will love seeds and plants as much as her family before her.”

It’s springtime and Badger is ready to plant the perfect garden. He has spent months gathering and sorting seeds. It’s been a lot of work but it’s worth it. His friends Red Squirrel, Dormouse, and Weasel come to help. They weed. They rake. And finally they plant. Afterward, everyone celebrates, and Badger can already imagine the perfect rows of flowers and vegetables. But then a rainstorm comes and washes away the beautiful seeds. Badger’s perfect garden is ruined. Or is it? Author Marsha Diane Arnold’s gentle story will encourage young readers to think beyond plans and expectations and imagine the wonderful possibilities that may occur when life and nature have other ideas.

The Story Behind the Story

The reason I wandered into a book about gardens is probably because I’ve been surrounded by gardens my whole life. Grandmother Krehbiel lived on a farm all her life and planted vegetables for a family of 10. But she didn’t forget the flowers. Her yard was abundant with color and fragrance – iris, spirea, Bachelor Button, petunias, lilacs. Grandmother Lippincott moved around a lot, but she always found a spot to plant flowers. Her favorite were hollyhocks and sweetpeas. When I lived in Sonoma County, California, I had a half-acre of flowers and heirloom fruit trees.

That perfection bit? I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. As I grow older, I’ve let go of some of that perfectionism. When I do let go, I find lovely surprises awaiting me, just as Badger did.

Awards and Honors

  • 2019 Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal
  • 2020-2021 Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award nominee
  • 2020 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award (selected by the American Horticultural Society and National Junior Master Gardener Program)

Activities

  • This fun sensory activity comes from Babies to Bookworms. Lay out brown play dough and an assortment of flower shaped beads. Imagine they are real dirt and flowers and you are planting your own garden. One person might start a flower pattern and have another person finish it. Would you plant a garden in straight lines like Badger or a jumble?
  • Take a flower or vegetable walk around your neighborhood to see what’s growing.
  • Look for plants that are native to your area. You can find a list of some native plants at the Xerces Society.
  • Plant your own garden. Go to the store and select some seeds to plant. You can use a current garden plot, a bucket, or other type of container to plant in. Wait for the surprise!

Kirkus

“There is no drought of picture books about animal friends making a garden. The hook in this one is the message that when plans go awry, there may still be a rainbow at the end. The attractive, full-page illustrations show flair and gentle humor…the message of coping with unmet expectations and not giving up hope is worthwhile.”

Midwest Book Review

“This is a fun book based on not giving up and accepting that things can be bright even when they don’t turn out the way we want them to.”

Geolibrarian

“Not only is this a delightful book about gardening and the hazards that can go with it, it’s also a sweet reminder that sometimes things work out even when our plans don’t. The illustrations are darling and compliment the text beautifully. A wonderful book all around, especially for those looking for stories about friendship, gardening, or overcoming disappointment.”

Feathered Quill

“Badger’s Perfect Garden is a charming story with a great lesson to be learned. Sometimes you just have to let go of your idea of “perfect” and let nature take its course…you never know what wonders may await!”

Picture Book Depot

“In a world fraught with bad news, a picture book about a badger’s desire to grow something beautiful can be a refreshing change. Badger’s Perfect Garden, by award-winning children’s book author, Marsha Diane Arnold, is just such a book.

It is a book about what happens when one’s creative side is clamoring to get out. But it is also a book about how not everything can be planned; sometimes the most beautiful things are things that were never planned, but instead ‘just happened’ when you weren’t looking.

Ms. Arnold’s prose is impossibly sweet and almost reads like a how-to-plant-a-garden manual for young readers. Artist Ramona Kaulitzki’s illustrations are as lush and colorful as they are furry and fluffy. Use this book to open discussions about growing gardens and discussing how even if everything isn’t planned, it may still end up being more beautiful than one ever thought it could be.”

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